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This month’s quiz bird’s most-obvious feature is a contrastingly yellow rump. Logically, one might immediately jump to the only ABA-Area species with that feature in its name, Yellow-rumped Warbler, as there are very few species sporting such an iconic field mark. However, this is the ABA online photo quiz, and we have to take things more methodically. Fortunately.
Yes, Yellow-rumped Warbler sports a bright and strongly contrasting yellow rump in nearly all plumages (juvenile – aka first basic – plumage being the exception). Unfortunately, there are some 19 other ABA-Area species that exhibit some yellow on the rump that more or less contrasts with a darker back and/or tail in one plumage or other. Of these, only six are warblers. Let’s tackle the non-warblers first, as our bird certainly gives the feeling of being small like a warbler. Bananaquit; Western Tanager; Yellow Grosbeak; Orchard, Altamira, Spot-breasted, Audubon’s, Scott’s, Streak-backed, and Bullock’s orioles; Evening Grosbeak; and White-winged Crossbill all have more white on the wing than exhibited by our quiz bird (which has, essentially, none). The other two, Black-vented Oriole and Red Crossbill lack the white in our quiz bird’s tail.
That leaves us with five warblers other than Yellow-rumped to rule out to get to the correct ID. Although our quiz bird’s wings have only a dull pattern to them, that’s still more pattern than that shown by Virginia’s and Nashville warblers. Magnolia and Yellow-rumped Warblers typically exhibit obvious wing bars that are much whiter than our quiz bird’s tan or buff wing bars. Cape May Warbler has a yellow rump patch much like our quiz bird’s. Adult males, though, sport an obvious white wing panel. The dullest of immature female Cape Mays, which could approach our quiz bird’s wing pattern, would not show anywhere near this bright and contrasting of a rump patch.
Tail pattern in warblers is exceedingly useful in ID endeavors and I strongly recommend learning them (the Peterson Warblers book by Dunn and Garrett has a superb plate of such, and The Warbler Guide treats the topic thoroughly). Unfortunately for this quiz photo, its subject is missing most of its tail, with, apparently, only the outermost three rectrices on the left side being retained from some near-disaster. Finally in this vein, if that innermost of the remaining rectrices were also missing, the pattern of a large white tail corner would be obvious and would have enabled immediate ID on that feature.
I took this picture of not-quite-fully-plumaged Western Palm Warbler at Pt. Pinos, Monterey County, California, on 9 November 2015 (see the eBird checklist).
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the March 2017 Bird Photo Quiz —Western Palm Warbler:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.